Bill Gates warned on Wednesday that malaria was back on the rise again and would continue to claim more lives worldwide unless governments reinvigorated their push to eradicate the disease. Malaria death rates have been in steady decline since 2000 but rose again in 2016 as progress towards eliminating the mosquito-borne preventable disease stalled. Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist Gates said innovation would be crucial to keep progress in tackling the disease ahead of its ability to develop resistence to drugs and insecticides. "This setback where the 2016 cases went up is a real signal to us," Gates, the second richest person in the world, told the 2018 London Malaria Summit, where experts gathered to plot the way forward. The funding has to be long-term and we've got to get smarter. The malaria burden really is still unacceptable."
More than 445,000 people died from malaria in 2016, mostly children under five and pregnant women. One child dies every two minutes from the disease. There were 216 million cases in 2016 - 90% of which were in Africa. Malaria is estimated to cost the African economy more than $12 billion per year and can swallow up to 40% of a country's healthcare spending. Deaths from malaria dropped by more than 60% between 2000 and 2015. Gates said that around seven million lives had been saved since he began investing in 1999 and several countries had been declared malaria-free. "Progress against malaria has been one of the most impressive successes in global health in this generation," the US philanthropist said. However, he warned: "If we don't keep innovating, we will go backwards. If we don't maintain the commitments, malaria would go back up and kill over a million children a year, because the drugs and the insecticides always are evaded by the mosquitos and parasites. Unsurprisingly, I view data as the lifeblood of how we're going to be smarter."
The London gathering is taking place on the fringes of the biennial Commonwealth summit. Gates said 90% of people living in the Commonwealth were at risk of catching malaria. Summit host Britain has called on the 53 Commonwealth nations to commit to halving malaria throughout the member states by 2023. Such action would prevent 350 million cases and save 650,000 lives, it was claimed. "It is an ambitious goal, but one that is firmly within our reach," said British Prime Minister Theresa May. "Malaria devastates lives worldwide but it has a particular impact on the Commonwealth. And we, as a Commonwealth, have a duty to tackle it." Stakeholders were expected to pledge more than £2.7 billion of funding into research, data tools and malaria interventions. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus - who twice caught malaria and lost a brother to it - said a "fresh fight" was needed to hold the gains made in fighting the disease. "Finance is on the decline," the Ethiopian diplomat told summit delegates. "We have to renew the political commitment."
For the first time in 10 years, malaria cases are no longer falling. Not only has progress stalled but in some countries the trend has reversed. Six out of 10 malaria cases globally occur in Commonwealth countries. The leaders of those nations are being urged to make a historic commitment to halve the number of malaria cases by 2023 – a goal that, if successful, would prevent 350 million cases and save 650,000 lives. The heads of 16 out of 53 Commonwealth countries attended Wednesday’s summit, hosted by the governments of Rwanda, Swaziland and the UK. Rwanda is one of the countries experiencing a rise in malaria cases.
Pedro Alonso, director of the World Health Organization global malaria programme, warned that the fight against the disease is at a crossroads. “History has taught us well that when we lift our foot from the accelerator malaria comes back with a vengeance. We must take a decisive leap forward or we risk going backwards and we have seen that already happening in a number of countries.” Last year, a report by the WHO found that Rwanda and Nigeria saw more than 1 million new cases of malaria between 2015 and 2016. Twenty-four countries had an increase of more than 50,500 cases in 2016. Just five of the 29 high-burden countries, including Gambia and Madagascar, saw a significant decrease in malaria cases. “We are stalling and unless we do something urgently we are going to see this trend continue in the coming years,” said Alonso.
A large puddle of stagnant water lies across a roadway in a slum in Luanda on February 22, 2018 following heavy rains. Heavy rains, filthy conditions, medicine shortages and endemic corruption have combined to make a lethal malarial cocktail for Angola.
The impact may be less strategic but there was some serious business to resolve at the Oxshott Bridge Club last night as 12 + ½ Tables turned up to contest the Final Round of the Tilling Trophy. This is our premier competition to determine the Top Pairs of 2018. Played over seven Rounds on the Third Wednesday of each month, the prize goes to the Pair that achieves the lowest score from their positions in the “Best Four” Rounds that they play. The Final Round was indeed held on Wednesday 18th April. Many congratulations must go to Deanne & Kevin Goddard who made a late dash to complete their four Rounds and – after coming Fifth last night – scooped First place overall with an outstanding “Best Four” score of 11 points; they are our Tilling Trophy Champions for 2018!! Elisa Money & Mike Mulligan made a valiant effort by winning the Final Round, and they came Second with an excellent 15 points in the Overall Ranking, with Dave Bowen & Philip Goldenberg coming Third with 19 points. You can review the full Final Leaderboard for the Tilling Trophy by clicking on the “Competitions” tab in the Menu to the left of this box and again on “Tilling Trophy” tab in the sub-Menu. The full Report on the evening’s play can be found by clicking on the “Competitions” tab and again on “Competition News”. Alternatively you can study the full Leaderboard and the individual Travellers by clicking on the “Calendar & Past Results” and again on “Wed 18 Apr”.